The Shepparton Art Museum recently announced the winner of the fifth biennial 2019 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award as Sydney based Lynda Draper, with her 2019 series, Somnambulism.
The work entails a series of busts of kings and queens, their forms echoing the neoclassical statues discovered in grounds of a European palace, shrouded during the winter months to aid conservation. Monument-like, Draper places these new figures on tall white plinths. Their crisp whites, pearly pinks and pastel hues appear ghost-like and translucent, in contrast to the usual weightiness of bronze and concrete more commonly used for sculptures in parks and public spaces.
For the artist, Somnambulism, or sleepwalking, is the dream-space between conscious and unconscious thought. The title conjures a psychological space with echoes of the wintery parklands, gardens and decorative excesses of the Château du Versailles, on the outskirts of Paris, France, where Draper was recently an artist-in-residence.
The 2019 prize was judged by Lisa Slade, assistant director, artistic programs at the Art Gallery of South Australia; ceramic artist Stephen Benwell; Rebecca Coates, director of Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) where the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award Exhibition. Each of the finalists was invited to present a major new body of work which is on display at SAM until 1 September 2019.
The $50,000 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award is the most prestigious national award for ceramics, showcasing new and exciting developments in the field. It aims to showcase work of exceptional quality, work which engages with themes and ideas of our times and work that is technically and conceptually ambitious and, as an acquisitive prize, makes a strategic contribution to the development of the SAM Collection.
SAM is recognized as the leading collection of ceramics in Regional Australia and throughout the 28 years association between the Sidney Myer Fund and Shepparton Art Museum, over 175 works have been added to the collection through this acquisitive Award.
The 2019 finalists are:
Greg Daly, whose installation draws on a personal connection to landscape expressed through his glorious lustre glazed earthenware, paired with experimentations in new media.
Julie Bartholomew, whose installation of tall cylindrical porcelain and glass columns are a response to climate change and scientific research in Antarctica.
Stephen Bird, whose work explores the intersection where painting, sculpture and ceramics overlap through an installation of satirical works informed by his Scottish heritage and a sometimes-interest in Greek Mythology.
Juz Kitson, whose installation carries a sense of myth and magic in highly detailed sculptural works, which look at a human connection with the cycles of life, of plants, and of regeneration.
Isadora Vaughan with a site-specific installation investigates the interior and exterior landscapes of the human body as it relates to architectural space, geology and the natural landscape.
Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award Exhibition, 21 June to 1 September 2019, Shepparton Art Museum [SAM]